By Darshan Madkholkar, Senior Identity & Access Management Specialist, Inspira Enterprise
The massive breach that occurred at Tesla in May 2023 impacting over 75,000 employees has now been definitively attributed to insider involvement. This breach involved two former staff members who circumvented established security protocols and exposed sensitive personal information and customer grievances about the automaker’s self-driving features.
The breach contained a staggering 23,000 internal documents spanning a period from 2015 to 2022. Insider threats pose a huge risk to every organisation in the digital economy. America’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) defines insider threat as – “the threat that an insider will use their authorized access, intentionally or unintentionally, to do harm to the department’s mission, resources, personnel, facilities, information, equipment, networks, or systems.” Violence, sabotage, theft, and espionage are some of the ways these threats manifest. To fight these threats and strengthen the organization’s security posture, Privilege Access Management (PAM) has surfaced as the most crucial security pillar that helps tackle a relatively known source of threat effectively.
Challenges of Insider Threats and Privileged Access:-
1. Compromised privileged credentials.
2. Lack of restrictions on privileged sessions thereby adding to data breaches.
3. No accountability for shared privileged account sessions.
4. Back door orphan accounts created on business-critical assets.
Essentials of a robust PAM solution:
Privileged Access Management or PAM is a critical component of a larger Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution that focuses on the processes and technologies required for securing privileged accounts. Let’s look at what capabilities a robust PAM solution should have.
1. Automatic Credential Management: Ensures that privileged account passwords are not shared with anyone or stored on a piece of paper or notepad but are frequently rotated and stored securely.
2. Privileged Account Discovery and Automated Onboarding: Ensures no back door account is created for malicious intent and orphan accounts get disabled.
3. Enhanced Session Management: Guarantees all activities or privileged sessions are controlled and recorded in a video format which can be used for tracking malicious activities for non-repudiation. It also serves as a critical audit trail for security and compliance purposes.
4. Adaptive Access Control: Warrants organisations to adequately safeguard privileged accounts and resources against threats and misuse in today’s ever-evolving landscape. It brings about a balance between usability and security, ensuring the right individual gets the right access and all business-critical applications are allowed access through the approved workflow. This helps in preventing access during non-working hours or beyond office boundaries.
5. Analytics and Reporting: Diligently monitors user behavior to detect and report suspicious activities. Reporting also ensures all access is frequently audited. Regular audits help to maintain transparency and accountability throughout the system. Added Benefits of PAM: Efficiency and Savings While PAM effectively addresses insider threats, the advantages extend beyond threat prevention.
● By limiting additional privileges and controlling access to critical systems, PAM helps to reduce the attack surface and enhance security.
● Malware infection and vulnerabilities that malicious actors can exploit are also
significantly reduced. The visibility of privileged users and accounts is further
● PAM solutions also enable organisations to achieve and maintain compliance, besides helping to qualify for cyber insurance.
● With centralised management of privileged accounts and automation of routine tasks, overall operational efficiency is achieved.
● PAM solutions also help in saving costs with the reduction in security incidents,
streamlining of processes with automation, and reduction in downtime.
Thus, a well-implemented PAM solution not only enhances an organisation’s security posture and safeguards its critical assets, but also brings in operational and cost efficiencies.